The Georgia Court of Appeals recently decided the case of McRae v. Arby’s Restaurant Group, Inc. In this case, the Court of Appeals refused to force an injured worker to allow an insurance company’s lawyer to talk to the injured worker’s doctor without the injured being present. When we are treated by a doctor, we expect that what we share with the doctor will be kept private and confidential. We do not expect the doctor to be forced to talk about any of our medical conditions with our employers or their insurance companies just because we are injured performing our jobs.
The decision in McRae v. Arby’s Restaurant Group, Inc. protects Georgia’s long established right to medical privacy which is guaranteed by the Georgia Constitution. It also follows recent decisions made by the Georgia Supreme Court which protected a patient’s right to medical privacy. It is good to know that the medical privacy we expect to have remains protected in Georgia.
UPDATE: Unfortunately, the decision of the Georgia Court of Appeals which protected an injured workers’ right to medical privacy was overruled to a large extent by the Georgia Supreme Court. While the decision of the Georgia Supreme Court in McRae held that the it was not improper to order an injured worker to sign an authorization allowing the injured worker’s doctor to meet with the insurance company’s attorney, the decision did not that the doctor could choose not to meet with the insurance company attorney or could require that the injured worker have the opportunity to be present at any meetings. Hopefully, doctors will choose to protect their patients’ privacy by not meeting with attorneys for the insurance companies without allowing injured workers or their attorneys to be present.